In this month’s Industry Insights we catch up with Mark Murphy, Head of Technical Operations and Physical Security for CDW UK.
Mark Murphy started his military career at just 16, and today he serves in a top role at a leading IT company. Now he’s giving back with tips for anyone following in his footsteps.
Mark Murphy believes cyber security should be front of mind- not just for tech industry professionals, but for everyday civilians and service people. He’s fit into all three of those categories, so take it from him: it’s time to “focus on our own digital lives and ensuring they remain uncompromised.”
TechVets spoke to Mark about his unique perspective as an ex-military man who traded dog tags for data tags and found his place in a leading cyber securities role. These days he serves as Head of Technical Operations and Physical Security for CDW UK (‘the biggest IT company you’ve never heard of’).
“I truly feel a great sense of pride to be able to work for a business that makes a huge difference to Public Sector, Corporate and Enterprise customers,” he shares. “We really do work on behalf of the biggest names in the world, and I regularly play ‘spot the customer’ when I’m out and about. My wife despairs…”
Read on for more on Mark’s journey, plus his tips for any service-leavers, reservists, or military family members looking to work in technology.
Starting Young and Pushing His Limits
Mark says his background armed him with invaluable skills that he still uses today. It wasn’t an easy road, however. As a young recruit, he thought military life was his only option.
“I was a 16 year old that felt I had no direction or career ideas,” Mark admits. “I had a tricky childhood for a number of reasons, didn’t achieve well at school and found myself looking for something that would take me away from where I was and give me a purpose.”
He certainly found one. Mark quickly built friendships, broadened his horizons, and made a truly meaningful impact while working as a Royal Fusilier. He counts serving in Bosnia for SFOR with “an amazing team of people” as one of his proudest achievements.
So why leave? Reflecting on his choice to cross the bridge into civilian life, Mark says he joined “way too young” and was already losing his spark.
“At 21 I still didn’t know who I was, whether there was any future for me in the military, and I didn’t have the confidence or guidance to chase anything other than what I was doing day to day,” he shares. “This led to me not keeping up to date with my own career needs and losing the ability to remain relevant, losing confidence and heading into burn out.”
TechVets Industry Insights: Mark Murphy
Rising to the Top in an Unexpected Tech Career
Mark has worked for CDW UK for 13 years now. He says an old colleague brought the company to his attention back when it was ‘Kelway.’
“It just sounded perfect. I had just moved back to the midlands after wrapping up a business venture of my own. It was clear to me that Kelway was a fast growing business that really valued people and gave great opportunities.”
Many of those opportunities were (and still are) for ex-Forces personnel.
“We employ veterans across the globe,” says Mark, “and have an Armed Forces Network group in the UK and a real focus in the US, UK and Canada to get more veterans into CDW.”
For those still unsure what CDW does: It’s the world’s largest IT reseller, providing business IT solutions, services and products all while solving any IT challenges its clients encounter. It also often hires veterans into its tech and cyber jobs because “veterans have a view on life that those outside the military rarely get,” as Mark puts it.
“The truest experience of collaboration, teamwork, discipline, drive, passion, loyalty and focus, all while working in sometimes very pressured and reactive theatres of work,” is how he describes serving in the Forces. “This then breeds a confidence and seemingly natural ability to cope well with change and other pressures, while remaining mission-focused and supporting others throughout.”
Those qualities (plus cyber awareness) make an incredibly desirable candidate for roles at companies like CDW.
Mark’s Top 6 Transferable Skills for Service Leavers in Tech
Mark says his career in technology and cyber security directly benefited from his army days. He had certain skills, habits, and tools already in his back pocket- and you might have them, too.
Here are five transferable skills that Mark still uses today.
1. Ease Taking Orders: “Knowing how to take and deliver on orders really helped me to learn how to deliver effective orders as a leader in my current role.”
2. Mental and Physical Fitness: “I have the right balance to ensure I’m fit mentally and physically to support everyone, and set expectations on when and how I can support them.”
3. Trust in Teamwork: “Trusting those around me to go and do a great job, and giving them the space to do so, but knowing I have their backs.”
4. Sharp Thinking Skills: “The ability to learn, and think logically and laterally.”
5. Awareness of Security Issues: “A security-focused mind (and instinct) helps when
wearing one of my current hats.”
6. Pride that Spreads: “A sense of pride in what I do helps me to get that message across to my teams, to help drive quality to our customers.”
Ready to put your background to use in a technology career after military service? Connect with pros like Mark at the link below, or get more inspiration from other industry experts here.